Last week I took a break from writing about European destinations and shared memories of my favorite hikes, mostly on the west coast of the USA. You can find that post here. Today I’m back with more on Europe, this time San Sebastián, Spain and Bordeaux, France. theTravelsketcher and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last week, and figured a road trip would be a fun way to celebrate.
San Sebastián aka Donostia, the Basque name, is about an eight hour drive from our home; we got an early start so we could be there by dinner. This beautiful city is located on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s Basque country and is known for incredible food, beaches, a long, lovely waterfront promenade, and much more.
The old town, founded around the 11th century, is filled with trendy pintxo bars, cobblestone streets, gourmet food and souvenir shops, and lots of visitors.
We went mostly for the food, which is famed to be the best in the world due to its high number of Michelin rated restaurants. Casa Vergara located just a few blocks from our hotel, quickly became our favorite pintxo bar. Established in 1948, this lively establishment has a large variety of interesting and creative pintxos.
Antonio Broadway also became a favorite, here we had some of the best scallops we’ve ever had.
The promenade seems to go for miles and is a good place to walk off all those extra calories.
We wandered into Parroquia de San Vicente, built between the 15th and 16th centuries, where an amazing soprano was having a voice lesson. I could have stayed there all day listening to her.
We also visited some Christmas markets.
We stayed at SANESbay Botique Hotel located right on the waterfront. The service was exceptional, and I highly recommend this hotel. We had some challenges trying to reach the hotel with all the one-way streets and pedestrian only areas, so we parked in a garage about five blocks away, and walked to the hotel. We were a bit tired, and a little harried from getting turned around in old town, but the staff offered us a glass of wine, and get this – they actually went to the garage where we left our car, and brought it to their garage for safe keeping. They always greeted us by our first names as we passed through the lobby. The room was incredibly comfortable, and quiet even though people party in old town into the wee hours of the morning. We will definitely stay here again on our next trip to Donostia.
Our next stop was Bordeaux, known for wine, the beautiful Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, stunning architecture, parks, and gardens.
We were not as taken with Bordeaux as Donostia, but we still had a lovely time. Here we enjoyed some delicious meals, long walks through old town, browsing in the many shops and Christmas markets, and sitting in outdoor cafes watching the world go by.
One afternoon we were enjoying drinks that came with a little dish of peanuts, when we were viciously accosted by a very aggressive pigeon. It was just inches from Terry’s head and fluttering wildly as we shooed it away. We sat there for about 45 minutes and for the entire time, it kept creeping towards our table, after each attempt to shoo it away. At one point, a woman walked past and swung her shopping bag at it. But it was determined, and not easily deterred.
Before long, it was joined a few other birds. They kept their little eyes glued to us the entire time we sat there.
After we paid our tab, said merci, au revoir to our server and got about 20 feet from where we were sitting, we heard a huge crash. The birds had swooped down on the table, wildly gobbling the peanuts, causing my pretty champagne flute to shatter on the sidewalk. Terry’s beer glass was knocked over, but thankfully wasn’t broken. I think they need to reconsider serving peanuts with aperitifs!
It was a fun anniversary celebration and we enjoyed visiting areas we had not yet seen.
As always, I would love to hear from you, so leave a message if you’re so inclined.
Wishing you grand adventures, free from aggressive birds,